A little while ago me and six of my friends headed to Lee Valley White Water Centre in Waltham’s Cross to give white water rafting a try. We’ve been saying for a while now that now most of us have normal Monday-Friday jobs we need to use our weekends more and do some activities. This was the first on the list and although it was pretty pricy (around £60pp) it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
The entire session took around 3 hours with the first half hour or so being taken up by giving us wetsuits and us getting into those wetsuits. My goodness were they difficult to squeeze into, thoroughly unattractive and insanely hot but finally we managed it. Of course we had a lot of safety talks and general talk about what we were going to do.
The first part of the session in the actual raft was learning the commands; rowing forwards, backwards, getting down, leaning etc. It didn’t seem all that important at that moment but when you’re in the rapids you’ll appreciate everything you’ve been taught. Next up was the swimming test; jump in the water, let the rapids take you down-stream, when shouted at swim against the current to the side and hop out. Sounds simple enough?! Watching some it looked simple enough but sadly the swimming to the side was easy enough but actually getting out was a little tricky. Note to self: you aren’t as strong a swimmer as you think.
Next up we practiced falling out of the raft and having your wonderful friends pull you back in, all well and good and useful to know if you fall in! The scenarios they explain what to do in are pretty off-putting; what to do if you are trapped under the raft, what happens if you can’t swim to the side etc; so understandably we were a little apprehensive before the first trip into the rapids.
But after all the training we were ready to try it and the exhilaration made it all worthwhile. Yes it was pretty petrifying: there’s nothing to hold on to as you’re holding your paddle! Usually your feet are wedged under the seat in front of you but when the raft fills with water it expands to allow water to escape so your feet aren’t secure either. Essentially you could be hanging there with only a tense body and a prayer to someone higher up that you don’t fall in.
We did pretty well and only one of our party fell into the water (the other group at the same time had 3 so we felt pretty smug!) but the instructor in our boat was fantastic in helping us during this time. After an hour of surfing some rapids and getting absolutely soaking it was over and although we wanted more we were all absolutely knackered.